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April 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for April 2024.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Royal Borough of Greenwich Nepalese Society (RGNS) New Year Celebrations

It was lovely to join the RGNS’s celebrations this month as they welcomed a New Year 2081. I want to wish all Nepalis in Erith and Thamesmead and across the whole country a very Happy New Year.

History made for Erith and Belvedere FC

I was inspired to watch history in the making as the first ever girls side from Erith and Belvedere FC under 15’s team played against Sudbury Town at the Acclaim Handling Community Stadium in Welling. Big congratulations to all those involved in making this happen and to the girls on the field from both teams.

NHS Confederation’s Annual Mental Health Conference and visit to Leeds Synergi

Many thanks to NHS Confederation for inviting me to speak to their annual Mental Health Conference in Leeds on the urgent need to invest in our mental health services. It was also important to learn about the innovative approaches taken at Leeds Synergi in tackling ethnic inequalities in mental health.  

My Work in Parliament

This month, we have continued to see chaos in Parliament as the Government struggled to pass their flagship Safety of Rwanda Bill.

In my view, this is a failing scheme, with even the Home Office Permanent Secretary saying there is no evidence it will work as a deterrent. Instead, I believe we must put that money into boosting Britain’s border security with a new cross border police unit to smash the criminal smuggler gangs.

Speaking at Lloyds Banking Group’s ‘Black in Business’ reception

It was also great to speak at the ‘Black in Business’ event in Parliament hosted by Channel 4 and Lloyds Banking Group. And it was great to hear from the amazing Black entrepreneurs and business owners, who spoke about the work that has been championed by this initiative.

Furthermore:

  • Happy Easter – Hoping everyone celebrating Easter had a very joyful holiday.
  • Eid Mubarak – Warm wishes to the Muslim community celebrating as the holy month of Ramadan came to an end.
  • Happy Vaisakhi – I was also pleased to wish Sikhs here and around the world a very happy Vaisakhi!
  • Happy Tamil New Year – And a very happy Tamil New Year to the Tamil community.
  • Happy Passover – Chag Sameach to all those who observed Passover.
  • Stephen Lawrence Day – On the 31st anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, it was important to come together to remember him and his family’s struggle for justice.
  • Happy St George’s Day Hope everyone had a happy St George’s Day!
  • Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week – Thank you to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance for promoting this important awareness week.
  • Congratulations to Erith Town FC – I also want to say a massive congratulations to Erith Town FC who managed to add the Kent Senior Trophy to this Season’s list of accomplishments. Well done!

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

March 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for March 2024.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Responding to the Extending DLR to Thamesmead Consultation

This month, I submitted my response to the Transport for London (TfL) consultation on extending the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead.

There is a clear consensus: we need #NextStopThamesmead now. Sign up to join my campaign via this link here.

#LetGirlsPlay football sessions for International Women’s Day

Friday 8th March 2024 marked the third annual #LetGirlsPlay football event across England. I was delighted to visit two schools in Erith and Thamesmead that took part, St Thomas A Becket Primary School and De Lucy Primary School.

Walkabout with Superintendent Simon Corbin

I was pleased to be able to join the London Metropolitan Police Superintendent for the London Borough of Bexley, Simon Corbin, and his colleagues for a walkabout around Thamesmead to discuss the great work the local team is doing to keep residents safe.

My Work in Parliament

At the beginning of the month, the Government announced the Spring Budget amidst the ongoing Cost of Living Crisis.

At Health and Social Care Questions, I raised the pressing issue of record waiting lists for gynaecological treatment, with the number of women waiting tripling since 2012. You can watch my question here or read it here.

One Voice Roundtable

I spoke with health professionals and charities at Royal College of Midwives One Voice round table about how maternal outcomes must improve.

One of the 100 Women in Westminster

It was an honour to be recognised as one of the hundred women making a difference, and to be selected amongst other female trailblazers. You can read more about this event here.

Furthermore:

  • Black Health Inequalities Summit Reception – Pleased to attend this reception organised by the Caribbean & African Health Network (CAHN) to discuss community approaches to tackling health inequalities.
  • Women’s Health Roundtable with Women’s Magazines – Good to join Wired, Glamour and Vogue Magazines this month, alongside Wes Streeting MP, to discuss how we close the UK’s Gender Health Gap.
  • International Women’s Day event with Marsha De Cordova MP
  • APPG for Ethnic Minority Business Owners
  • Endometriosis Awareness Month – It’s important to pay tribute to the great work done by charities on this issue like Endometriosis UK.
  • Black Maternal Health Conference – I delivered the Keynote speech at this event hosted by the Motherhood Group.
  • My visit with Anneliese Dodds MP – We met with the Motherhood Group’s community hub to hear from new mothers directly.
  • Parliamentary debate on Health and Wellbeing services in Essex.
  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week – I spoke about how over a million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder, sadly it is the cause of more loss of life than any other mental health condition.
  • Black Men and the Mental Health Act – I spoke at this symposium focused on how Black Men are disproportionately detained under the Mental Health Act.
  • Ramadan Mubarak – Wishing everyone celebrating the holy month of Ramadan a blessed, healthy and happy year ahead.
  • St Patrick’s Day – Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone celebrating in Erith and Thamesmead, Ireland and around the world.

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

February 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for February 2024.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

DLR to Thamesmead

This month, I was pleased to see TFL’s launch of a consultation to extend the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to two new stations in Beckton Riverside and Thamesmead. 

Since I was elected in 2019, I have been campaigning for increased transport links for Erith and Thamesmead residents that many others across London already enjoy. My #NextStopThamesmead Campaign aims to bridge the gap that many constituents face in accessing jobs and opportunities across London. 

The TFL proposal to extend the DLR to Thamesmead would be a much-needed improvement, unlocking new homes, helping to boost connectivity and providing more public transport options for the people of Thamesmead. 

TFL are holding a consultation until the 18th of March, allowing you to have your say.  

You can share your comments through the online consultation page here and you can also share your views with me and join my campaign on my website here.

Superloop Expansion

It was also great to see the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launch the expansion of the Superloop bus service this month, providing more transport options to those who need it.  

The new SL3 express bus route runs between Bromley and Thamesmead providing better links to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup and other locations in South East London and beyond. It will also provide better bus links for the people of Thamesmead travelling to and from Abbey Wood Station.   

My Work in Parliament

This February, I have been busy in Parliament raising my constituent’s concerns and challenging the Government in my role as Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health.

At the beginning of the month, I was delighted to mark Children’s Mental Health Week during its 10th year in action. It is organised by Place2Be, which deserves great thanks for all the work that it does to support children’s mental health across Britain.

This year’s theme, “My Voice Matters”, went to the heart of the issue. Every child matters. Each child counts no matter who they are, what their parents do, what their race or religion are, or where they live. Every child must know that their voice matters, and we need a system that listens to every child.

Recent data indicates that the Mental Health crisis amongst our children is worsening, with record numbers of referrals to children and young people’s mental health services. In Parliament, I shared Labour’s commitments to combat this crisis by creating open-access mental health hubs for children and young people in every community, placing specialist support in every school and by cutting waiting lists for those seeking mental health support. 

I also contributed to a recent Guardian article which highlighted the steep rise in Black inpatients injured while being restrained by police in mental health units. There is a pressing need to directly challenge racial disparities in mental health treatment. These figures reveal that the shocking racial inequalities in our mental health services are only widening, and so much more needs to be done to address them.

As you may be aware, this month Parliament passed Labour’s amendment calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and for a pathway to long-term peace. As your MP, I voted for the Labour amendment which also demanded the release of all hostages, an end to settler violence, Israel complying with the ICJ ruling and the unequivocal need for a political process to work towards a two-state solution. 

Unfortunately, these important votes and the wider debate was overshadowed by arguments over parliamentary procedure. Since entering the House of Commons in 2019, this is the worst I have seen it. It was especially disheartening to see party political game-playing at a time when our debate on this issue should be deeply serious.

In the House of Commons, I also challenged the Government on their UNWRA funding position, asking for assurances over a timeframe for bringing back the funding. The need for aid in Gaza has reached a critical position, and it’s vital that the Government gives clarity on this issue. You can see my intervention here

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament and live in Erith and Thamesmead then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

Visit to London South East Colleges

It was fantastic to visit the London South East London Colleges Bexley campus this month. I had an insightful discussion with the CEO and Student Union President, as well as a tour of the college’s impressive facilities. 

It is so important that we hear directly from young people on their experiences with mental health, which is why I was very pleased to have been able to have a roundtable discussion with students from the College. 

We know that our child and adolescent mental health services are in a severe state of crisis, with the number of children and young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care having reached new records. That’s why Labour will recruit thousands more mental health staff to cut waiting lists and ensure more people can access treatment alongside creating an open-access mental health hub for children and young people in every community. 

My visit only reaffirms my commitment to championing our colleges, empowering our teachers, and providing every student with the tools they need to succeed. I look forward to working with the College in future to support the talents and aspirations of the young people in Erith and Thamesmead.

Visit to Cornerstone School with London Sport

I also visited Cornerstone School in Belvedere, who provide a foundation of learning, tailored to pupils aged 11 – 19 who have a primary diagnosis of autism, and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs, to join a sport session supported by London Sport. 

London Sport, a charity focussed on tackling inequality and inactivity in London, is distributing £5.7m of funding to schools in London over a three-year period. Thanks to this funding, Cornerstone School has been able to run projects for its students with new equipment and increased accessibility.

It was amazing to see the students showcasing their sports skills and competitiveness at the gym, table tennis and trampolining. I was particularly impressed with the leadership and dedication of the headteacher and her team. It was clear how passionate all the teachers were to make sure the students had a nurturing, friendly and supportive environment.

UNISON’S National Women’s Conference

I was delighted to be invited to give a keynote speech at UNISON’s National Women Conference, where one of its key focuses was on women’s health at work. 

The discussions revolved around needs of women workers with respect to endometriosis, menopause and menstruation and how they hamper workplace wellbeing, especially when not taken into consideration by employers. An important motion passed was on improving maternity care for Black women who face a higher risk of losing a child to miscarriage or losing their life during childbirth. 

In my speech, I highlighted racism faced by women of colour while accessing healthcare services and I spoke about the importance of employers’ recognising and understanding menopause in women. 

I made clear that women’s health must be a priority for the Government, yet too often women’s needs have been ignored. 

Instead of continuing to sideline women’s health, I shared Labour’s mission to build the NHS fit for the future, tackling inequalities, rooting out racism and creating systems which recognise women’s health needs.

It is time to restore our National Health Service, free at the point of use, available to all. 

You can read more about the conference and my speech here: Women’s health at work is a UNISON priority says conference | Article, News | News | UNISON National

ITV’s Late Debate

It was a pleasure to be on the panel of The Late Debate with ITV News and discuss a number of important issues including the safety of public officials, tax incentives for London tourists and the upcoming Mayoral election. 

In particular, I raised my concerns about the current climate of abuse against people in public life, with people of colour and women often being more at risk. In my role as Chair for Labour’s Women Network, I have worked hard to train women to build resilience towards the abuse they are subjected to, and best practices towards tackling it.  

People in public life should not be scared or intimidated while carrying out their responsibilities and I hope to see more progress in changing the current climate. 

Visit to the Opening of Orleans Woodland Walk

Last month, I was pleased to visit the Oxleas Goldie Leigh site and officially open the new Woodland Walk. I was very impressed with this new development and excited to hear how it will support the wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors.

It was great to meet with those involved and hear about their vision for the future of Goldie Leigh. I was particularly impressed with the plans for the Health and Wellbeing Centre, which will be an excellent asset to the community.

Visit to Alexander McLeod Primary School

Last month, I also visited Alexander McLeod Primary to hear from students about their Black History Month project on the Windrush scandal.

I was so impressed with the student’s knowledge of the Windrush generation and their ability to communicate this important story that impacted so many people’s lives. 

I was also interested to hear about the student’s investigation into the different demographics of people who live in Abbey Wood and how this has changed over the years. 

Engaging with young students and seeing them so interested in politics is inspiring and truly one of the best parts of being an MP.  The enthusiasm and dedication of all the teachers and support staff at the school was evident to see. 

Update on Casework for February

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me throughout February to raise the issues that you have been facing.

Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in constituents struggling with the increasing living costs and the strain this is placing on families. My team and I have been and will continue to support the most vulnerable as they face these challenges.

This month, delays in the Home Office processing immigration applications continue. Several IT errors have been cited, preventing the Home Office from making decisions on applications and causing further delays.

While I know the struggles that too many in Erith and Thamesmead are still facing, I was pleased to see successful outcomes on a variety of cases. I will continue to support constituents on the issues that they are facing as we move into March.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that you like to raise with me, please contact my office using the following channels:

Furthermore:

  • Holocaust Memorial Day at Woolwich Town Hall – I was also pleased to attend this important service of remembrance marking Holocaust Memorial Day in Greenwich. 
  • Lord Bob Kerslake Celebration of Life Memorial – Pleased to attend the memorial for Lord Kerslake, who was an inspirational champion of improving our cities, towns and villages through its positions in local and national government.
  • Dinner with the Royal College of Psychiatrists – It was lovely to meet Dr Lade Smith CBE and other members at the Royal College to discuss the current mental health crisis and what more needs to be done. 

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

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UNISON’S National Women’s Conference

I was honoured to be invited to deliver a keynote speech at UNISON’s National Women’s Conference, where the pivotal theme centred on women’s health in the workplace.

Throughout the conference, we engaged in profound discussions surrounding the specific needs of women employees, particularly concerning conditions like endometriosis, menopause, and menstruation. It was evident that when these crucial aspects of women’s health are overlooked by employers, it significantly impacts workplace well-being.

One of the significant motions passed during the conference was aimed at enhancing maternity care for Black women, who unfortunately face heightened risks of miscarriage or maternal mortality. This issue underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to address healthcare disparities and ensure equitable access to quality care for all women.

During my address, I shed light on the systemic racism that women of colour encounter when seeking healthcare services. Additionally, I emphasised the imperative for employers to recognise and accommodate menopause as a crucial aspect of women’s health in the workplace.

Women’s health demands prioritisation at all levels of governance. Unfortunately, far too often, the needs of women have been side-lined. However, I firmly believe that it’s time for a transformative shift.

In my speech, I articulated Labour’s unwavering commitment to reinvigorating the NHS to make it truly inclusive and responsive to the diverse health needs of women. Our vision entails not only addressing existing inequities but also eradicating systemic racism within healthcare systems and instituting frameworks that prioritise women’s health needs.

Now more than ever, we must rally behind the fundamental principle of a NHS that is universally accessible and free at the point of use, ensuring that every individual, regardless of gender or background, receives the care they deserve.

You can read more about the conference and my speech here and read about an interview I did with UNISON here.

Let’s continue our collective efforts to champion women’s health and build a future where every woman can thrive.

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Visit to London South East Colleges

It was fantastic to visit the London South East London Colleges Bexley campus this month. I had an insightful discussion with the CEO and Student Union President, as well as a tour of the college’s impressive facilities. 

It is so important that we hear directly from young people on their experiences with mental health, which is why I was very pleased to have been able to have a roundtable discussion with students from the College. 

We know that our child and adolescent mental health services are in a severe state of crisis, with the number of children and young people undergoing treatment or waiting to start care having reached new records. That’s why Labour will recruit thousands more mental health staff to cut waiting lists and ensure more people can access treatment alongside creating an open-access mental health hub for children and young people in every community. 

My visit only reaffirms my commitment to championing our colleges, empowering our teachers, and providing every student with the tools they need to succeed. I look forward to working with the College in future to support the talents and aspirations of the young people in Erith and Thamesmead.

January 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for January 2024.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2024

I hope that everyone in Erith & Thamesmead had a very merry and restful Christmas period and are having a good start to the New Year.

Last year was one of mixed emotions. While there were so many great things going on in our community, there has been far too much pain as a result of the continued cost of living crisis. I don’t need to tell you how difficult the last few years have been and how challenging the situation remains for families across the constituency and the country.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges including housing insecurity, financial difficulties, immigration issues and much more. Over the course of the last year, I worked with constituents on almost 12,000 issues and while I know too many still struggle, I’m pleased to have had many successful outcomes supporting those in need.

As you may also be aware, later this year we are expecting a General Election. I look forward to campaigning on how a Labour Government would do things differently and move our country forward if we are privileged to win. In the meantime, I will continue to work hard for our community and hold the Government to account in Parliament.

Norwich Hospital and Mental Health Hub Visits

We know that so much more needs to be done to tackle NHS waiting times and to address the mental health crisis faced by our youth.

This month, I was pleased to join the Labour candidate for Norwich North, Alice Macdonald as we met the hard-working staff at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and also the fantastic team at the Risebrow Mental Health hub in Norwich City centre.

It was really important to hear all the pressing issues they are facing and I was also pleased to share Labour’s plans on how we would do things differently.

My Work in Parliament

This January, I have been active in Parliament raising many constituent’s concerns and challenging the Government in my role as Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health.

I began the month by joining the Shadow Health team in highlighting the current crisis in NHS dentistry and the Government’s failure to take action. People across the country are finding it impossible to get an NHS dentist when they need one and the consequences for patients are appalling. Our analysis found that more than half of dental surgeries in England aren’t accepting any new patients – with 8 in 10 refusing to take on adults and 7 in 10 shutting their doors to new child patients. In the Opposition, we believe this is unacceptable and needs to change.

In Parliament, we put forward a new ‘Dentist Recovery Plan’ to provide 700,000 more urgent appointments and new dentists in areas with the greatest needs. Unfortunately, the Government didn’t back our plan and I believe are continuing to fail to take urgent action to address this crisis in dentistry.

I also spoke in a debate this month on Trends in Excess Deaths, where I shared my deepest sympathies with all the families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and why so much more needs to make our NHS fit for the future.

Then in Health and Social Questions, I shared the story of Sandy Simmons, who has waited nearly a year for surgery after a uterine prolapse. I challenged the Government to explain why so many patients are experiencing long delays to get the surgeries and treatment that they desperately need.

This month, I have also been supporting Labour’s plans to get zombie knives off the streets. After seeing the devastating impact knives have had in our constituency, I’m pleased to back these proposals and I’m also pleased to back my colleagues Helen Hayes MP’s bill to make this happen. These horrific weapons have no place on our streets. While I’m pleased the Government have committed to act, I continue to be concerned by the constant delays and urge them to take comprehensive action now.

I also supported Fleur Anderson MP’s bill aimed at creating a mould free Britain. Over 2.5 million people in the UK are renting cold, damp or mouldy homes. This is unacceptable and we need to ensure mould is addressed so children, families and everyone lives in an acceptable and safe environment.

Finally, it was also great to meet a number of constituents who came to Parliament to watch Prime Minister’s Questions this month. It was very nice to meet you all.  

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament and live in Erith and Thamesmead then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

Local team from YouthBuild Ventures UK visit to Parliament

It was wonderful to meet the local team from YouthBuild UK, who came for a tour of parliament finishing with a Question and Answer session!

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to these young people who asked brilliant questions about the role of an MP, the function of parliament, job prospects and Britain’s economy.

YouthBuild Ventures UK do great work in opening access and career opportunities with construction organisations for disadvantaged young people at risk from social exclusion. It was great to meet the group in parliament and I want to thank them for coming.

Roundtable on Mental Health app ‘Shout’ with Google and Mental Health Innovations

This month, I was also thrilled to host an important roundtable bringing together MPs, Google Experts and Leaders from Mental Health Innovations to discuss and explore how technology and artificial intelligence can support mental health services in the UK.

Mental Health Innovations is a charity pioneering technology to improve the mental health of the UK population. In 2019, they launched the Shout, a text message service providing free, 24/7 mental health support to anyone in the UK.

We were also joined by the parents of a 12-year-old who was a Shout beneficiary, and it was lovely to hear how the service supported their child in their time of need. More information can be found at: https://giveusashout.org/.

My Update on Casework for January

Thank you to everyone who contacted me in the last month and over the course of 2023 to raise the issues you have been facing.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges. This month, I noticed a slight increase in immigration-related queries, many of which are a direct result of the significant delays in the Home Office’s processing of cases, including EUSS applications and administrative reviews.

In January, I have referred three constituents to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who wanted to bring their complaints regarding the issues they had with Student Loan Company, DWP and CAFCASS. I’m also pleased to have arranged another regular surgery to speak to constituents about some more complex issues they are facing.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that you like to raise with me, please contact my office using the following channels:

Furthermore:

  • Jo Cox Commission Event – It was good to join the launch of the Jo Cox Civility Commission report into tackling abuse and intimidation in British Politics. It’s important we reflect and learn from their findings.
  • MPS Commissioner Meeting – I also joined an important meeting with the Met Commissioner to discuss policing in London, raising important concerns around Met Reform and current strategic operations.
  • Women’s Health Summit Reception- Pleased to join the summit on Women’s Health Strategy 2024. I engaged in discussions with prominent stakeholders towards enhancing and shaping women’s health in the future and drive policies that prioritise a better experience for women in the NHS.
  • Cervical Cancer Prevention Week- It was insightful to attend an important reception by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to hear experts talk about the success of cervical screening and HPV vaccination programmes, how to tackle inequalities in prevention, and innovations that could help us eliminate cervical cancer.

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

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Local team from YouthBuild Ventures UK visit to Parliament

It was wonderful to meet the local team from YouthBuild UK, who came for a tour of parliament finishing with a Question and Answer session!

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to these young people who asked brilliant questions about the role of an MP, the function of parliament, job prospects and Britain’s economy.

YouthBuild Ventures UK do great work in opening access and career opportunities with construction organisations for disadvantaged young people at risk from social exclusion. It was great to meet the group in parliament and I want to thank them for coming.

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Roundtable on Mental Health app ‘Shout’ with Google and Mental Health Innovations

This month, Abena hosted an important roundtable discussion in Parliament alongside Google and Mental Health Innovations, a charity supported by Google.

The aim was to explore the potential of AI in enhancing the efficiency of Mental Health Innovations’ (MHI) digital support service, Shout. The gathering brought together parliamentarians, Shout beneficiaries, senior representatives from MHI and Google, as well as Professor Peter Fonagy OBE, Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at UCL.

One of the key outcomes of the discussion was Google.org’s commitment to supporting MHI’s with funding to leverage AI in improving their flagship service- Shout. Shout is a text message service providing free, 24/7 mental health support to anyone in the UK.

During the roundtable, Parliamentarians received tailored reports for their respective regions, shedding light on the utilization of the Shout support service and the prevalent mental health issues in those areas. The focus was on exploring how digital services can augment mental health support and better cater to vulnerable groups across the UK.

Abena was joined by other Parliamentarians including Tracey Crouch MP, Liz Twist MP, Jeff Smith MP, and Andy Slaughter MP, who contributed valuable insights from their experiences supporting constituents through mental health challenges, while understanding the ways in which young people seek support through AI Tech enabled platforms such as text services and AI chatbots.

One of the most poignant moments of the discussion was hearing the parents of a 12-year-old girl who benefited from the service and from Emily, a dedicated volunteer at Shout. Their testimonials highlighted the profound impact of tech-based mental health services, such as text support and AI chatbots, in reaching and aiding vulnerable individuals.

Google’s Vice President of Product Management also spoke about how Google Search directs vulnerable individuals towards the help they need, and Professor Fonagy spoke on the transformative potential of machine learning and AI in crisis intervention.

This roundtable highlighted the collaborative efforts between policymakers, tech giants, and mental health experts in harnessing technology to address mental health challenges.

Abena Oppong-Asare, Shadow Minister for Women’s Health and Mental Health said:

“It was a pleasure to join Google and Mental Health Innovations today in parliament to discuss the important subject of mental health. The services provided by the charity are vital for those suffering with their mental health and I’m pleased Google.org is providing the financial resources to help develop the use of AI to optimise and improve the efficiency of their flagship service Shout.”

December 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Many thanks for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter for December 2023.

I hope you enjoy this update on some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Happy New Year

I hope that everyone in Erith & Thamesmead had a very merry and restful Christmas period. December was a very busy time in our community with lots of events and activities. You may have also noticed my Christmas Advent Calendar on social media, where I was sharing so many of the great things going on. I was pleased to join a number of these events to celebrate the festive season.

For example, it was lovely to take part in the annual Christmas Tree Festival at Christ Church in Erith and to see all the impressively decorated trees. Along with many local families, charities and businesses, I was glad to decorate my tree to contribute to another successful festival. As well as this, it was nice to see so many at the Christ Church Erith Carol Service hosted by Revd Anthea Harris-Faulkner.

It was also great to attend and do a reading at a number of other carol services across our community including for the All Saints Belvedere Carol Concert and the Carol Service at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel hosted by Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice.

And it was fantastic to join Santa with the Rotary Club of Erith as they travelled across our local area to raise funds for local charities, as the club has been doing for over 90 years.

And finally, there was no better way to celebrate the Christmas festivities than at Belvedere Community Centre’s community Christmas lunch. Such a great atmosphere and I want to say a huge thanks to the staff, volunteers and supporters of Belvedere Community Centre for bringing us all together and for the amazing food and carols!

I want to thank everyone who hosted events in Erith and Thamesmead throughout the Christmas period and again hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Card Competition 2023

It was also very nice to hold a constituency competition to design my annual Christmas Card for 2023.

This is where I invite students from across Erith and Thamesmead to submit their artwork to go on my Christmas Card and also to be showcased in the House of Commons by the Speaker of the House. The theme for this year was: ‘What Makes Me Happy in Erith and Thamesmead’ and I’d like to thank all the pupils who took part.

The Winner was Mija Liumpa, aged 10, from Parkway Primary School and you can see her brilliant design below – representing the old Mulberry tree near the Abbey Wood ruins.

If you would like to know more about the competition and the winner you can read my article announcing the winner here.

Thanks also to the local co-sponsors who kindly supported part of this year’s competition – Co-op Belvedere and Manak Solicitors.

My Work in Parliament

This month, I was also working hard to share Labour’s message on the NHS and our Health Care system in Parliament. I’ve also been raising several issues that I know are important to those in our community.

I began the month by challenging new Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP on the current state of the NHS after 13 years of Conservative Government. For example, at Health Questions, I highlighted that two-thirds of Maternity services are now rated inadequate or requires improvement and made clear that the problems are only getting worse, leaving more mothers and their babies at risk, receiving care that’s not good enough.

Furthermore, I challenged the Government to address the urgent crises of NHS waiting lists, NHS dentistry services and in Social Care that’s leaving too many across the country without the support they need. In response to these crises, I made clear the Opposition’s plans to tackle these emergencies and shared our mission to make the NHS fit for the future.

In addition to this, I also wrote to the government regarding the concerning events in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo and what steps are being taken to reduce the outbreak of disease and hunger in the region, as a result of ongoing conflict.

It was also great to have a number of constituents come to Parliament to watch Prime Minister’s Questions or go on a Tour of the estate. I was particularly pleased to hear that so many students from Woolwich Polytechnic School were able to come for a Tour.

As ever, if you are interested in a Tour of Parliament and live in Erith and Thamesmead then I would be happy to arrange this for you. Please contact me at: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

New Kitchen at the Javan Coker Foundation

I was also very pleased to join the Javan Coker Foundation (JCF) this month as they celebrated the installation of their newly refurbished kitchen at the JCF centre.

Alongside the Council Leader, Cllr Anthony Okereke, it was lovely to join the team for the opening and hear about all the great work they have been doing to support children and families in need.

If you would like to find out more about the charity and what they are doing in our community, then you can find their website here: https://www.thejavancokerfoundation.org/

My Update on Casework for December

Thank you to everyone who contacted me in the last month and over the course of 2023 to raise the issues you have been facing.

My team and I have been doing all we can to support constituents as they face serious challenges. Unfortunately, it has been another very difficult year as far too many have faced housing insecurity, financial difficulties, immigration issues and much more.

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, this year my team and I have worked on almost 12,000 issues for constituents. While I know too many are still struggling, I’m pleased to have had many successful outcomes and to have made a lot of positive change for many in our community. I will continue to challenge the Government on all these issues as well as working with constituents on many of the personal issues they are facing.

As always, if you have any concerns or issues that you like to raise with me, please contact my office using the following channels:

Finally:

  • St Fidelis Primary School Christmas Singers – I wanted to say that I’m so proud of all our St Fidelis singers who participated in the King’s Christmas Speech with Bexley Music on Christmas Day.

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch

 

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Christmas Card Competition

I am once again very pleased to announce that I’ve been holding a constituency competition to design my annual Christmas Card for 2023. I invited students from schools across Erith and Thamesmead to take part.

The theme for this year was: ‘What Makes Me Happy in Erith and Thamesmead’. I would like to thank all the pupils who drew and painted a design that showed what they love about places in our constituency. This included the parks or open spaces, local communities, shops, landmarks, animals or even family and friends.

The artwork was assessed by a panel of judges, and the winning design has been used as my Christmas Card and sent to more than 1,000 local people, businesses, and community groups. 

We had a brilliant turnout for this competition with so many excellent designs being sent in. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all the schools, teachers and parents who helped organise the competition.

Attached is a photo of me meeting with the Speaker of the House to showcase the winning design, he was very impressed by the competition and has put the winning design on display!

Congratulations to this year’s winner, Mija Liumpa, aged 10, from Parkway Primary School. You can see the winning design above.

To complement the design, Mija wrote a few words:

“I chose to draw this as it reminds me of nature and the mulberry tree of Abbey Wood ruins. It is an amazing place which calms me, and I can meet many dogs there which is also why I chose to draw them. It is one of my favourite places of calmness and my favourite place in Erith.”

It was great to visit the students of Parkway Primary School in person this week, and hand Mija her well-deserved prize as overall winner of the competition.

Thanks also to the local co-sponsors who kindly supported part of this year’s competition – Co-op Belvedere and Manak Solicitors.

Congratulations again to Mija and I wish a Merry Christmas to all.